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Wednesday May 29, 2013Gators Ready for WCWS Opening Round Thursday Versus Tennessee, 2:30 p.m. on ESPN

Oklahoma City, Okla.

WATCH: Florida Head Coach Tim Walton and Senior Kelsey Horton at WCWS Press Conference



The 2013 Womens College World Series kicks off Thursday for the No. 2 seed Florida Gators and the Orange and Blue will open action in Oklahoma City at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium against SEC Eastern Division rival Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. ET.



TIME: 2:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN2 | | Live Stats | 105 The Game


The Gators and Lady Vols have never met in the NCAA Tournament, but have met nine times in the SEC Tournament for a 5-4 all-time record in postseason play against UT, including 4-1 under head coach Tim Walton. Florida edged out Tennessee for the SEC regular-season title in 2013, while also taking two-of-three from the Lady Vols in Gainesville during the regular-season set. The last four meetings between Florida and Tennessee have all gone eight innings. Florida leads the all-time history of the series, 43-20, including a 4-3 record on neutral ground. Under Walton, UF is 21-7 against the Lady Vols.


Florida is 11-9 all-time in the WCWS, having been a league-best four straight times from 2008-11, and has played in the Championship Series twice (2009 vs. Washington & 2011 vs. ASU). The Gators are making their fifth WCWS appearance in the last six years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) and just three current Florida players have played at the WCWS scene: Seniors Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) and Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) & junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.). Last time out in the WCWS in 2011, UF fought off two elimination games against SEC foe Alabama in the WCWS semifinals to make its second Championship Series. The Orange and Blue now own a 48-29 (.623) all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, including a 43-19 (.694) record under eighth year head coach Tim Walton.


Should Florida advance, it would play the winner of Washington/Nebraska Friday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN at Hall of Fame Stadium.


Read more about UFs match-up with Tennessee in the WCWS opener in the Gators postseason supplement.




Opening comment:
First of all, thank you to the NCAA, ASA and the University of Oklahoma for hosting a great event. Were excited to be here. Its probably one of the best fields that Ive seen -- obviously why we got a lot of television coverage. A great wide-open field with a lot of talent. Oklahoma being in this tournament obviously brings added extra excitement with all the fans and exposure, and its just great for the game. The games in great hands with all the great student-athletes that represent each institution here, and on the field. A really good class of student-athletes here.


On facing SEC foe Tennessee to start the tournament:
I think the preparation is obviously a little bit different. You dont have to watch as much video, you dont have to break out some old video and try to get a lot of scouting reports from other people. So preparation is a lot different. I would probably assume that its good. Our kids are familiar. On the bad side of things, were very familiar with Tennessee and how good they are, so it kind of gives them the same preparation. So the goods and the bads; its tough to come all this way to play an SEC team, but if I did it every year from here on out Id do it every time. Its not a bad thing to be in. It is exciting, but in the same sense we know how good Tennessee is. Its tough to get prepared for someone like that and weve always played tough games every year.


On returning to Oklahoma after last weeks tornado in Moore:
My wife is from Oklahoma, and we were glued to the TV for two, three days, probably like everyone else across the country. Its very different when youre familiar with the area and you know the streets and the paths. I was here in 99 (for the Moore tornado) and was here for the bombing (in 1995), as a player, so I understand what those kinds of devastating things can do. One of the things Ive been pretty open about is that I came to (the University of) Oklahoma as a player from California because of the people and how well they treated me and how well they treated the Sooners. I know thats what people do. There are so many people that are willing to help and do a lot of things. This area hosts this tournament because of what theyve done. Theyve hosted the Big 12 tournament, the Big Eight tournament before that, just because of how open-armed they are and what theyre willing to do and bend over backwards for people. Its tough. My daughter, whos young, was very scared thinking something had happened to our family who lives fairly close. With kids losing their lives, its very humbling and very sad in the same sense. The state of Oklahoma, the city of Oklahoma City, the city of Moore and all the surrounding area will do like they always have done; band together, get outside help and rebound and be better and stronger for it. Im convinced of that.



On the strength of Floridas freshman class:

I think they came in humble and willing and ready to work. As a senior, I really appreciate their efforts. Im so happy for their success and Im so proud theyve filled some really big shoes this year.


On facing SEC foe Tennessee to start the tournament:
Im excited. I think every matchup from here on out is going to be a good one, no matter what conference the teams come from. Im just really excited.


On giving advice to younger players about the WCWS experience:
Ive had them ask some questions, but I think its just more out of excitement rather than any nerves. I dont see any nerves in them, which is great. I think theyre just really excited to play in the stadium. I think that attitude has carried us this whole year, just being fearless and being able to play recklessly without worrying about the circumstances too much.



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